The Trump campaign set up ‘war rooms’ in the White House complex, blurring politics and government.
President Trump’s campaign has set up two “war rooms” at the White House complex for election night, officials confirmed on Tuesday, once again raising questions about the intermingling of the official and the political in the Trump era.
One war room is in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is adjacent to the White House, campaign and White House officials confirmed. White House officials also said there is a separate, smaller enterprise in the White House building.
The use of government property for political purposes has been a recurring theme in the Trump administration over the past year. Mr. Trump held the final night of the Republican National Convention on the South Lawn of the White House at the end of August, after plans were repeatedly altered because of the coronavirus.
And in the final months of the campaign, Mr. Trump has increasingly relied on political appointees and government agencies to bolster his re-election campaign.
The war room “needed to be in close proximity to the President,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement. “There is no expense whatsoever to American taxpayers for the use of a room,” where, he said, “events like prayer services and receptions for outside groups frequently occur.”
Mr. Murtaugh added that “every piece of equipment, including WiFi and computers, was paid for by the campaign, and no White House staff is involved.”
The White House Counsel’s Office approved the arrangement, he said.
Previous administrations have set up some kind of monitoring effort at the White House, although some of have been mindful of avoiding having campaign staff involved.
When former President George W. Bush ran for re-election in 2004, his team set up in the White House residence with a screen allowing officials there to monitor campaign data, according to a person involved in the operation It was approved by the White House Counsel’s Office. But in that case, campaign staff were not present, and officials involved had to demonstrate they’d worked a certain number of government hours in order to participate, the person involved said.
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